The most poignant moment came at the end of a clip on the successful extraction of a Haitian buried for nine days beneath a collapsed building. After burrowing, cutting and chiseling, the Israelis found him and began the arduous task of hauling a possibly injured man through a narrow passageway they had freed up.
The crowd outside cheered “We love Israel” as they brought the man out to light he had not believed he would see again. His eyes strained against the light as he opened his eyes. The very first thing he saw was the face of the doctor peering down at him, probing his face for broken bones. The doctor was an Ethiopian Jew, sent half way around the world by “apartheid” Israel.
When the SAR work was completed, his men didn’t simply wait out the time until departure. They spent their last days providing needed services for the Haitians, like building latrines and water tanks. Liron showed one such tank, decorated by the Haitians after they had constructed it. Its entire height had been painted in the form of two flags, side by side – one of the U.S., the other of Israel.
Liron left the audience with a glimpse into the Jewish soul common to all the team’s participants: religious and secular, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, male and female, young and old. It was moving for the non-Jews to behold. It was moving for me. It was hasbara at its best – without even trying.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of Interfaith Affairs of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and the Sydney M Irmas adjunct chair, Jewish Law and Ethics, Loyola Law School.